This is a very rough cut that introduces moments in Rosey’s life, establishes the look, the cinema verite’ styled footage and outlines some of themes that will be developed in telling the story of Rosey's life and his impact on people past & present.
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“I hope that it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life but that great consciousness of life…” Jack Kerouac November 1951
Roosevelt Thompson lived to be 22. An African-American kid from Little Rock, Arkansas, Rosey never finished his formal education, never had a career, never married, yet he became a hero to thousands of people. Why? How? This is his story.
“It occurred to me that here was a man who died at the age of 22, yet he made enough of an impact on people so that a library is named after him decades after his death. I know he made an impact on me; I just didn’t know there were so many others out there like me until I started asking questions. Rosey changed people for the better everywhere he went. Just how alive Rosey is today, twenty-five years after his death, will astonish you.” Slade Mead, College Friend
Rosey is born just a few years after the Supreme Court landmark ruling of Brown v Board of Education, the court case which called for the desegregation of public schools. It is not an easy change for many and, outside Little Rock’s Central High School, people take to the streets to prevent integration from happening. To restore order, President Eisenhower calls in armed Federal troops and, in the fall of 1957, nine courageous African-American students walk the gauntlet through a mob of anti-desegregation whites into the white Arkansas school and into the history books. The children become known as the Little Rock Nine and the event marks an inflection point in history- the moment where equal opportunity is extended to include education. Rosey is raised in this racially charged era and he grows up just a few miles from Central High School. Years later he would walk through the same doors as did the Little Rock Nine and continue their story, putting his own signature into the history books. As Ernest Green, one of the Little Rock Nine, describes the significance of Rosey in relation to his own fame, says… “Rosey is more important than I am in that I was chosen by history to make a difference. In Rosey’s case, he is the one that chose to make a difference.”
“I would say that Rosey is somebody who kind of crept up on you. It wasn’t obvious when you first met this guy just how deep and just how substantial he was.” William Cronon, Former Yale Professor and fellow Rhodes Scholar
We meet Ned Harris, a Rosey classmate at Yale, talking to an auditorium full of high school students about Rosey as “The Representative Man.” Ned has been presenting this talk to high school kids for 24 years. We hear classmates and friends describe how Rosey is their role model – how he is a “Johnny Appleseed” of ideas. People describe the skills, techniques, and tools they have adopted from Rosey and the influence he has on them and on people they know. People describe the “Rosey techniques” they learned: listening with intensity, speaking last, keeping focus on the individual, respecting others, being present in the here-and-now, inspiring with actions, identifying with a vision of a better future, actively working to make a difference. Rosey provides hope, integrity and courage to cross thresholds and to find one’s own voice. Rosey's “Elixir” is defined: It is the power of ideas. People describe how Rosey changed them and how they believe that one person can change the world. Rosey showed others: You can be more. Work toward a vision of a better world. Set goals and work hard each day. Through this, all who knew Rosey are inspired by the remarkable example of this human being. For many, he raises the bar of human consciousness.